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Wednesday 10th of June 2009
June 9, 2009

British Airways in strike fears as 2,000 jobs set to go

by Kay Murchie

It has been reported that British Airways (BA) is offering voluntary redundancy to 2,000 flight attendants.

Its 14,000 cabin crew members have been told that the equivalent of 2,000 jobs must go through voluntary redundancy and if this is not achieved, the losses could become compulsory.

BA’s chief executive, Willie Walsh, said the industry is in a “fight for survival” and he has set a deadline of 30 June for reaching an agreement on pay deals across the company.

Mr Walsh added that BA is taking “whatever steps are necessary to see the business through this crisis.”

Talks with the Unite, GMB and the Balpa pilots union are expected to begin today.

In the last year alone, over 2,500 jobs have been shed at the airline as the industry has been hit by the global downturn, making market conditions challenging. BA recently said this the harshest trading environment it has ever faced.

In an attempt to cut costs, BA has put more than 30 money saving proposals to its cabin crew, including reducing annual leave by 2 days to 34. The airline also wants a two-year pay freeze and a significant cut in the allowances paid to crew who fly long-haul.

There are also reports that the airline is looking to close its final salary pension scheme. Other companies have been announcing similar measures over the last week in order to cut costs.

As well as cabin crew, other members of BA’s expected to reject the airline’s planned cost reductions and could lead to a series of summer strikes.

Earlier this week, the International Air Transport Association said 2009 is set to be another challenging year for the airline industry. Last year’s challenging conditions led to many airlines going bust.

Last month, BA announced a pre-tax loss of £401 million for the 12 months to the end of March, compared with profits of £922 million the previous year.

While the loss was double analysts’ estimates, it also represented the biggest loss since the company was privatised in 1987.

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